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Home » What's New » Ultraviolet Awareness Month – The Sun and Your Eyes

Ultraviolet Awareness Month – The Sun and Your Eyes


Because of campaigns to inform the public of the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation to your skin, (including sunburn and skin cancer), most know about the necessity of using sunscreen and using other protective measures particularly during the blazing summer months. What is less known is that ultraviolet rays and other types of radiation from the sun are also a danger to your eyes.

If you are thinking of leaving the house without sunglasses, think again. Frequent contact with the sun's ultraviolet light has been linked to damage to the eye.

UV Eye Damage

Excessive short term exposure to UV is known to lead to photokeratitis or a ''sunburn of the eye'', leading to pain, blurred vision or even temporary blindness. In the long run, UV exposure can cause more serious eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, which can cause vision loss. Individuals that come into frequent contact with welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at increased risk of exposure to UV radiation.

UV Eye Protection

To protect your eyes from threatening UV rays, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Stick with shades that specify they are ''UV 400'', which indicates that they block both UVA and UVB rays from entering your eyes (400 refers to the wavelength of light in nanometers).

You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Wraparound sunglasses can prevent harmful UV rays from entering from the rear of the sunglasses.

People whose work or recreation involves lengthy exposure to sunlight are at greatest risk for UV eye damage. Ultraviolet radiation can be reflected from surfaces such as snow, water, and white sand and poses the most threat from 10 am to 3 pm and throughout the summer. UV radiation levels increase as you get closer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's recommended that you consult with an optometrist and to be aware of the risks for UV exposure. Simply wearing your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious eyesight.